You know that look at sunset when everything is soft and beautifully glowing from the sun? That my friends is the golden hour, and it is my absolute favorite time to shoot.
At most times during the day the sun is high in the horizon which can produce harsh, unflattering shadows and squinting eyes. When the sun starts to set and becomes lower in the horizon it becomes softer and more even, making it the most perfect light to photograph in.
Golden hour light can be used several ways but by far, my favorite is backlighting. Backlighting is what gives photos that ethereal dreamy glow.
Side lighting can give you beautiful depth and shadows, at golden hour the light is soft enough to do this without any diffusion, and without creating huge contrasts in light + shadow.
mid day sun
Front lighting is a great option at golden hour because you get the nice soft light illuminating your subject as well as their surroundings.
While you certainly can try front lighting during the day, your results won’t be quite as nice. Your subjects will be squinting or forced to wear sunglasses/hats.
People often come to me asking how to get out of a photography ‘slump’. I always have two answers, shoot every day + shoot at golden hour. Shooting at golden hour will help you fall in love with light. Experiment with different exposures and shoot at different angles towards the sun to get unique haze and sunflare in your images.